Review: Le Mans 24 Hours, MotoGP and more
The 80th running of the famous FIA WEC 24 Hours of Le Mans was shaped up to be a thriller. Would Toyota be able to keep up with the Audi juggernaut, would Audi too keep their dominance going, or would another car come forward and take the honours. Well, many knew that the last one was a little optimistic, but the other two were well and truly bang on correct. Audi notched up yet another win in the French classic, taking a dominant 1-2-3-5 with their 2 R18 eTron Quattro’s and 2 R18 ultra’s. Not surprisingly, the eTron’s swept the top 2 spots, the first hybrid vehicle to do so, only one lap difference. The more conventional R18 ultra’s too drove brilliantly, the no.3 in 5th was only 12 laps down after a late shunt with a barrier and only 1 lap from taking a memorable 1-2-3-4 for Audi, the two ultra’s sandwiching the Rebellion Racing Lola-Toyota in 4th. As for the works Toyota team, the best that can be said for them is that it was the race that could have been. The two TS030′s were trying to beat Audi to the mantle of the first hybrid cars to win the classic and were doing well, the No.7 leading when the No.8 was taken out in a collision with a GTE Am car. The No.7 was then left to race on its own, but at the restart, a bad error of judgement saw it bash into the DeltaWing prototype, ending their race on the spot, and as for the Toyota, it was damaged too, but it took 3 hours before the fatal engine failure finally killed it off. While Toyota will be happy that their challenger was quick enough, it is very disapppointing to not finish with either car. Starworks Motorsport took the honours in LMP2, the Honda prototype taking the flag by a lap, beating along the way 8 Nissan powered vehicles occupying the next 8 spots. In GTE Pro, AF Corse-Ferrari took the flag over Luxury Racing-Ferrari and Aston Martin by a few laps, turning around a tough race that saw one of it’s GTE Am cars in the Toyota collision. Finally, in GTE Am, the race was decided in the last 30 minutes. Pedro Lamy, veteran of many Le Mans, in his Larbre run Corvette ran down the Matmut Porsche driven by Anthony Pons. Really, he never stood a chance did Pons. But a great race by all who took part, and hats off to those who finished, for simply finishing this race is an achivement more than most.
We’ll next see the WEC in a much shorter 6 Hours of Silverstone on the weekend of the 25th August.
The British MotoGP was a great race from start to finish. At the start Ben Spies took the lead from polesitter Alvaro Bautista and attempted to make a getaway from the polesitter, Casey Stoner and Nicky Hayden. After an average start, Jorge Lorenzo quickly found himself leading the battle for fifth, no where near where he wanted to be. As Lorenzo worked into a groove, Ben Spies was starting to lose his, before losing the lead to Stoner, and eventually finishing in 5th. Stoner took the lead and worked on creating a gap, but by lap 9, Lorenzo had taken the 3 others and was now pushing for the win. Over the next 5 laps the lead changed, grew, shrank and grew again, before finally it was Casey Stoner started dropping off ever so slightly. Lorenzo, except for one moment a few laps from the flag, took an almost easy win, winning by 3.3 seconds to Stoner, a quick finishing Dani Pedrosa in 3rd, with Bautista and Spies making up the top 5. Cal Crutchlow took 6th after starting in 20th for his home GP, while Hayden was taken on the last lap and finished 7th.
The next round of the MotoGP will be on the traditional Saturday at Assen, June 30.
The 3rd IndyCar oval race of the year saw the 6th different winner in 8 races. Not quite F1, but close enough. On this occasion though, it was a home win of sorts for the Andretti team, with Ryan Hunter-Reay taking the checkered flag in Milwaukee. The Andretti group decided that it would market the race to keep it on the calender, and it was money well spent as the American took the win by over 5 seconds from Tony Kanaan and teammate James Hinchcliffe in 3rd. Further back saw Castroneves in 6th, the unlucky Graham Rahal in 9th, oval rookie Rubens Barrichello in 10th, title conender Scott Dixon in 11th, series leader Will Power in 12th and last on the lead lap, while defending champion Dario Franchitti had some contact with just over 30 laps to go and would be classified in 19th. The result sees Power’s lead shrink to 31 points over James Hinchcliffe with Scott Dixon 4 points behind in 3rd.
Guess what? Indycar will be back next weekend again! This time taking place at Iowa.
Marcos Ambrose finally took a pole in NASCAR, but it was not enough to stop fan-favourite Dale Earnhardt Jr. from taking his first win in 143 races, or four years. He won the race by 5.393 seconds over Tony Stewart, with Matt Kenseth taking third. The result saw Earnhardt close to 4 points from leading the pre-chase championship, trailing Matt Kenseth. In the race, Kyle Busch suffered his third straight engine failure, while Greg Biffle took another strong finish in 4th, Jimmie Johnson in 5th after starting last, while polesitter Ambrose was 9th, and pre season favourite Carl Edwards was a distressing 11th, and is currently not in an automatic chase position.
NASCAR will be back again next week, this time taking left and right turns at Sonoma Raceway.
The two V8 Supercar races in Darwin were going to be hot, and it wasn’t just the heat they were talking about. Jamie Whincup took the first race, and the title lead with a commanding victory over FPR teammates Will Davison and Mark Winterbottom. With that, he took the championship lead from Davison by 2 points, but there was still another race to go. In the second race, the FPR duo plus alligned teammate David Reynolds started in the top 3 spots, but were left red faced by Craig Lowndes who instead of setting up a car for qualifying, set it up for the race instead, plus a set of green tyres and took the lead from Whincup with 3 laps remaining. The result sees Whincup with a 38 point lead from Davison, while Winterbottom is 11 points adrift. After his win, Lowndes doesn’t move up, but does catch up just a little bit, as he is nearly 250 points from the championship.
The V8 roar will be heard again in Townsville on the weekend of the 17th June.
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